How Huber Needles Are Used to Treat Breast Cancer

How Huber Needles Are Used to Treat Breast Cancer

Huber Needle for Chemotherapy Infusions
Huber Needle for Chemotherapy Infusions. Art © Pam Stephan

If your doctor has recommended chemotherapy to treat your breast cancer, all the different tools and apparatus can be overwhelming and a little frightening. However, each tool plays a pivotal role in helping your body fight the disease and minimize pain and damage. While the Huber needle can look quite intimidating, it is incredibly useful.

What is a Huber Needle?

Huber needles are long and curved needles used during chemotherapy, especially for people undergoing treatment for breast cancer.

It is designed to work with implanted ports, with one beveled end entering the skin and the other entering the silicone septum of your port's reservoir. The deliberate design keeps the silicone  from breaking off and keeps your port working longer. 

What Size Are Huber Needles?

Huber needles come in a wide variety of sizes and widths. Every port and patient ​has different needs, so it's important to know what works best for you. While one needle length may be uncomfortable, another can be virtually painless. When you find one that works best for you, ask your doctor or nurse for the length and size of that particular Huber needle and record it for future reference. 

Will the Huber Needle Hurt?

While a Huber needle is necessary for your chemotherapy port, they are much less painful than other needles. The specially designed end goes through the skin much more easily. Because of how precise the needle is, only a tiny hole is created and the skin typically heals right over so there's no scarring.

If you just can't stand needles, ask your nurse for a special ointment like lidocaine gel to dull the area before getting the needle inserted. 

Are Huber Needles Safe?

Huber needles are safe to use but, as with all needles, can cause issues like infections. These needles are in contact with both your port as well as your blood, so it's essential that both you and your nurse take certain safety measures.

Huber needles typically have protective guards to prevent nicking you or your nurse and to prevent infection from spreading. Once the needle is removed, it is considered biological waste and will be disposed of. The nurse will apply a bandage over the area where the needle was inserted. If this area is kept clean and dry, there is little chance of getting any kind of infection or irritation. Some people find the area is a little tender or sore and find comfort using an ice pack or cool compress over the skin. 

While being diagnosed with breast cancer and beginning treatment can be scary, know that all of the needles and devices used is essential for your health and well-being. By doing a little research before your appointment, you will better understand what equipment is used and how it helps your treatments be successful. This information can help you relax during treatments since you know what's coming next and what each device does. Of course, if you have any questions, you should always ask your doctor whether it's about the illness or about any tools he or she uses. 


"Information About Huber Needles." Food & Drug Administration, 2015.